Asian-American panel urges social change

Cultural representations and political tendencies among Asian-Americans have evolved over the past three decades, said a professors’ panel for Asian-American Awareness on Tuesday.

Pei-te Lien, a professor of political science and ethnic studies, said that ever since the U.S. government began to study Asian trends in election years, only one in four Asian-American citizens actually voted.

“The Asian population has expanded over the past 20 to 30 years,” she said. “But voting and participation in politics has not.”

Lien said that these statistics have created a stereotype of Asians being politically indifferent. She said many Asian-Americans consider putting bread on the table as more important than being politically active.

“There are things that can change if you act,” she said to the Asian Americans in the audience, trying to get them to register and vote.

Lien listed signing online petitions, contacting state senators and writing letters to the editor as things “even a poor college student can do.”

The panel also focused heavily on the negative portrayal of Asian-American men and women in film.

Brian Locke, a U professor in popular culture and film, instigated this discussion by commenting on how changes have been made in the way Asian-Americans have been portrayed by Hollywood following the Sept. 11 attacks on New York City and Washington, D.C. in 2001.

He said that before Sept. 11, movies such as “The Rising Sun” and “Black Rain” showed an American fear of corporate Asia.

However, since the war on terror began and Japan became a U.S. ally, Asians have been portrayed in a better, more positive light, he said.

Professor of history Wesley Sasaki-Uemura focused the discussion on a concern of whether the campus was addressing internationalization or diversifying the campus.

“As an Asian-American, I am concerned with the issue of diversity,” he said.

“We need to create an awareness of a world outside the United States.”

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